Watering the Gardens at Crows Woods

Watering our gardens at Crows Woods or at home is of critical importance to perform correctly. This summer in particular, we have seen dramatically increased temperatures as well as restrictions on water usage by our townships. This has placed greater heat stress on our plants and greater responsibility on us to properly use and conserve this valuable resource.

Water the Roots

The application of water to plants is widely misunderstood. Water should be mainly delivered to the plant’s roots. A good starting point is to use the rule of thumb, “one inch of water per week.” The delivery of the water should be via a well-made “Watering Wand” that can be pointed directly at the base of the plant and not at the plant itself. Watering the plant leaves and stems (especially for tomatoes) will likely lead to fungal diseases and should be avoided. Also recommended is the creation of wells or small circular depressions around plants where water can collect and soak into the soil without running off.

What is not recommended is standing in one corner of your plot and shooting a stream of water over the top of all your plants indiscriminately. This has the potential of not only wasting most of the water, since a great deal will be lost to evaporation, but also of wetting the plants. Most of the water will not actually reach the roots where it does the most good.

Spring is a partial exception to the rule since plants such as lettuces, spinach etc. are small and require more of “rainfall” type watering, but again this is easily accomplished via the careful use of a Watering Wand.

Water Saving Techniques

Shirley with Gavin, and Kyla

New gardeners, Ann and Craig Goings, have harvested more than 70 lbs. of tomatoes in their half plot, 40A, after Craig installed plot-wide soaker hoses for deep watering their plot. Here, Craig attaches the Crows Woods hose to his garden’s soaker hoses.
(Photo by Mary Previte)

In addition to the proper application of water, other techniques can be incorporated to improve plants’ access to water. These include:

  1. Drip irrigation: In place of a Watering Wand, using either underground or above ground hoses;
  2. Raised Beds: This maximizes the plants’ ability to grow longer roots and to “tunnel” deeper for water and nutrients. A good write up on the subject is at: http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6985 (Lumber is not required);
  3. Mulching: Water will evaporate once applied unless mulching is used, such as straw, leaves, and newspapers. Mulching will also help reduce water run-off.

Following the recommendations above will result in healthy, well-hydrated plants with moderate use of water. All in all a win-win approach!

By Anthony Calabretta, Plot #3

(Edited by Nancy Calabretta)